The Future of Insurance Podcast – Jae Arias
Graduate of the Apprentice Program, Zurich North America
Season 4, Episode 12 Bonus, April 27, 2023
Jae Arias is an Underwriting Account Service Associate in construction for Zurich North America and a 2022 graduate of the Zurich Apprenticeship Program. She became a member of Zurich’s first New York cohort of apprentices after Zurich expanded the program beyond its Illinois headquarters in 2020.
Despite the challenges of working and studying remotely at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arias thrived in the program, being inducted into the Honor Society at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and successfully completing her apprenticeship in September 2022. She was promoted into her current role in addition to earning a Department of Labor Registered Apprentice certification and an Associate Degree in Business Management with a concentration in insurance from BMCC.
Before joining Zurich in 2020, Arias managed a dermatology office. She wanted to go to college, but the math didn’t work: She would need to work less to attend classes, but she’d need to earn more to pay for them. A friend who worked at Zurich told her about the insurance provider’s apprenticeship program. The math worked both financially and for Arias’ family: The program pairs three days a week of on-the-job learning with two days focused on schoolwork. Zurich pays apprentices a full-time salary with benefits, and covers tuition and books.
Arias pivoted out of a desire to better her life and be a role model to her children, the third of whom was born during her apprenticeship.
Today she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree through online studies at Loyola University Chicago, with help from Zurich’s tuition benefits, while working full time and serving as an Apprentice Alumni Advisor to current apprentices. She is also part of Zurich’s international Apprenticeship Buddy Program, with participants in countries such as Spain, Germany, Mexico and more. Her buddy, based in Switzerland, recently visited Arias at Zurich’s Manhattan office.
Arias enjoys sharing her experience and recently visited a Brooklyn charter high school to speak to seniors and alumni about apprenticeship.
Highlights from the Show
- Jae was managing an office when pandemic lockdowns struck, putting her job in jeopardy
- A friend mentioned a program Zurich had started where you can go to school and work, and she decided to look into it
- Zurich North America’s Apprentice program pays for students to finish their associate or technical degree while also employing them full time
- While they earn full-time pay, they are in school two days a week and at work three days a week
- Zurich provides an hour a day during work for studying
- An extensive support program is in place, including coaches, mentors, apprentice graduates and peers, recognizing that the issue isn’t just a money problem, but a more holistic question of supporting people pursuing their education while also needing to support themselves and their families
- Upon graduating from the program in two years, apprentices have a full-time role at Zurich to move into
- This helped Jae break the cycle many people find themselves in where they want to finish their degree, but need to work and may have families to care for as well, so giving time to any one of those demands can make the whole chain break – less time to work means less money for school, but you need time for school or you won’t graduate; etc
- Due to its success, the program has been expanding to more cities and school across the country, after its beginnings in the Chicago area, expansion to New York (where Jae joined the program), and now into Texas and Atlanta
- Zurich has found this to be a valuable way to work on the talent issue we all talk about in insurance while also bringing in new and different talent than they might ever have had access to with past approaches
Watch the Episode
Listen to the Episode
Thank you to our sponsor
This episode is brought to you by The Future of Insurance Volume III. The Collaborators, part of the Future of Insurance thought leadership series (future-of-insurance.com) from Bryan Falchuk.